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In Talks With Big Narstie: If We Never Pay Homage To Our Cultures & Heritage, How Does Our Ancestry Live On?

Afoma Andrea

By Afoma Andrea

Afoma Andrea

7 Dec 2021

A man of refreshing candour, Big Narstie is every interviewer’s dream. Exuding a personality so contagious, you will leave his presence feeling as if you’ve known him for five years. Minutes into our conversation I had already been introduced to his pet dog (who is huge might I add) and shown a glimpse of his delightful home.

When Big Narstie speaks, you listen and take notes. Delving into the topic of success, our exchange is populated with fascinating parables pertaining to his viewpoints on life and ownership. Considering the range of accomplishments he has achieved by himself, Narstie has every right to be in his bragging bag. Yet he remains humble and down to earth, showing appreciation to his humble roots.

Earlier this month, I got the chance to speak with the Grime pioneer on his latest release ‘Black Is My Colour‘ featuring Lover’s Rock icon Kofi, Cultural Ownership, CBD Oil and more.

Before I even get into the questions, gotta ask about Narsties because I had a look at the menu yesterday. When are you actually bringing it out here? I ain’t a big fan of fish but I saw the fish jerk and I need to try that.

I’ll make my Mom hook you up. You know what yeah, a lot of people been saying I should do a restaurant in England still. The reason why I kind of didn’t really have it in my forefront is that there’s already loads of Jamaican/Caribbean restaurants in England. What I’m trying to install by doing Narsties is that the Caribbean culture and community doesn’t take our food for granted, you get what I mean? Like if you went to Dubai, Turkey or if you went any other country, you’re gonna get an Indian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a Turkish restaurant. It’s very hard to get our cultural food, it’s very hard to find a place. You will never see rice and peas or jerk chicken in Dubai. It’s not because Dubai doesn’t want it, is because no one from our culture has got the balls to go over there and make it live and promote our food and culture. If you look at the Asian community, the fundamentals that their parents have taught them, they use it and take it all over the world. So I want to get to a stage where you go to Portugal and you see a Jamaican food shop. Not even Narsties but there’s someone else flying the flag, giving people an oxtail or cornmeal porridge with some fried plantain. All of these things man, got to branch it around the world but you never know, might pop one up in England still.

It’s the first Jamaican spot in Spain as well.

Yeah, there’s been little stores and stuff but yeah first proper restaurant.

Always the first in so many things, that’s what I really like about you. How’s the gym going? Think I saw a recent ad about looking for some charities.

Yeah, basically I made a CBD recovery gym. I’ve only been in the whole fitness lifestyle for four-five years now. So I don’t really know loads about the gym, but I know shitloads about weed. I know the benefits of what it can do. Since I’ve been training in mixed martial arts, the only thing that has been giving me the consistency to keep doing it has been my CBD oils with my recovery. I’m a big guy so rolling around on the ground and throwing myself around, it’s not about then it’s about the day after. The day after mobility is very hard, I mean my joints or my body is swollen. That’s where the problem is, so since I’ve been taking my CBD oils and stuff – my CBD is nanotechnology. So it’s 100% pure, there is no THC in it! It multiplies by 10 when it hits your blood system, so that’s why it’s so fast and hard-hitting. It’s doing the job, it’s making me able to function the day after. It’s sorting out my blood levels and making me fully functional. My mom was my testament as it made her walk in two and a half months from a hip replacement just from using my oil and physical therapy. From there I was like this is the truth! So I don’t really promote it too much, because I don’t think it needs to be. Obviously I opened my gym during COVID so that’s been a big knockback but it’s starting to get there. I’m the first person in the country, well in the world to ever make a CBD steam room. Just keep pushing one step at a time natural remedies and just thinking out of the box, man, why not.

So crazy how people only see the benefits of weed now but pivoting into The Big Narstie Show. I do remember you saying previously in an interview how your personality kind of irks you as people tend to forget that your biggest passion has been music. Does that still bother you?

It has a bit of both but it’s for me to manage. It’s hard to deal with a situation when you don’t understand it but when you finally get to understand the situation [pause]. Look the simplest way to explain it to you, my personality is white Michael Jackson it can go anywhere. My personality is viable and fits into more brackets yet my music is Black Michael Jackson. So all that just means is Black Michael Jackson has to work twice as hard as White Michael Jackson. I mean that is probably the best way to describe it.

It is true though that once your personality and your music match up your on a whole new level. We’ve seen that with you and Stormzy, it’s like the perfect formula for some reason. Before I even get fully into the music, I need to talk about you and Papoose, what’s going on there?

I had Papoose as the final guest on the show and from there we took it to the studio. He did the official remix for my new single Black is My Colour and I was just in awe to be in his presence man. Before like music started popping off me, we did road banging Papoose first two mixtapes. He’s been a big listening point growing up, I listened to a lot of his music. For a person who was very street-oriented, he was very educated as well and that’s what drew me to him. Not the fact that he was just a normal gangster rapper, he was an educated gangster rapper.That fully drew me to him like with all his music, he always had a conscious message behind the stuff he said. His lyrical wordplay is out of this world, it’s phenomenal. So I was in a proper fanboy moment, it was hardcore as well because I kind of broke my own jaw by grinding my teeth in my sleep. So I was just tanked up on Tramadol and Diazepam. I was just like fuck the pain, you with Papoose you need to fucking perform. If there’s ever a time in your life you need to perform, today is the time you fat sweat. Yeah drink some water and suck it up and yeah, man. The powers of the Tramadol and Diazepam fucking made me feel really good and took the pain away. We made history, we made two banging tunes. Did the remix for Black is My Colour and we made another one for the streets.

Is the remix gonna be on the upcoming project?

Yeah, the remix will be coming first. Black is My Colour is my single at the moment featuring Kofi. That’s doing very well, getting a lot of support.

That was the perfect track to close out Black History Month. What was the main inspiration behind that song?

Big up Kevin Legend, Dice recordings! Legend came with the idea, he’s like fatboy, yeah, here’s this old school song. I was like this sounds sick and obviously I’m of Caribbean descendants. I didn’t really know a lot about the song but when I played the song to my mother and she told me about the history of the song, I was like raah I’m third generation of the Windrush. So the meaning behind the song ticked all the brackets for me, it also resembled the culture of me growing up as a child. It’s like with the UK and the music industry, it has a very copycat fashion. So for some people wanting chart success, they will drop their cultural heritage in a heartbeat and jump on music that will put them on a better platform. Yet with everything we do, there are prices and consequences – if we never pay homage to our cultures and our heritage, how does our ancestry live on? The Africans found that out earlier, remember Afrobeats became popular in the last five years. This is the most we’ve seen Africans hold down then unify and represent themselves very proudly and you can see the benefits of what it’s done. Afrobeats music is rocking the nation, rocking the world I might as well say as Africa is a continent. So as soon as African artists started having that pride in their music, promoting and flourishing their culture and heritage, they’ve started to see the rewards from that – you know I mean. So it goes back to the English Caribbean people whose culture and heritage is Beres Hammond, Sanchez – this is where we come from. This was played at christenings, weddings – this is our heritage. So for this music to carry on and our legacies to stay in the books of time, we have to show homage and promote that to the newer generation. What makes me happy with my song Black is My Colour is that you could play any old school Gregory Isaacs, Beres Hammond and play my song. Every child from the age of 12 upwards would think this is my song, I’m the original of that. When they get to understand that I’m not the original, they will learn that this song was made in the 60s or 70s from our culture.

So from listening to your track, they will also be able to learn more about the history of the genre as well. They will look up samples, then the artists and before you know it they start learning about their history.

100%.

Well even touching on artists who forget about their culture. I do remember there was a time where it seemed like everyone had jumped on the mainstream, while you were the only one that stayed flying the flag for Grime. I wanna know what made you say no because seeing their pockets rise it must have been tempting.

Yeah there’s two types of success. There’s content in success and then there’s detrimental price of success in the sense of if I have to change everything I believe in to have the Bentley , I don’t want the Bentley. I’m not gonna sit in the Bentley comfortable – you know I mean. If it means for me to have a nice big house but all my friends and family have to suffer, I don’t want the big house because I’m not going to be comfortable in the house. These morals and principles go for decisions that I make. Fortunately, God’s blessed me in a situation where I’ve managed to make clean and happy money. Clean money in the sense of that it’s morally clean, spiritually clean. I haven’t had to destroy anyone to get the blessings I’ve had. I haven’t had to change the thinking of what my mom or my grandma and my granddad, uncles, aunties have installed in me to get to where I am. So the price of that means some things you have to say no to but in the words of my mum – not every beat you must dance to. So with that I always knew to myself, everyone talks about being real and all of this stuff but being real is a hinderance more than it is a blessing. There is no props for being real. You don’t get a pat on the back for doing the right thing, that’s the honest truth. There is no big party and celebration for being righteous and being moral. The only fulfilment I get from that is being able to sleep at night [laughs]. Sleep at night and being able to make sure when my children are older, the person who they grew up with in the house as children is not a hypocrite.

One word that comes to mind about you is definitely ownership. Even in regards to the Big Narstie Show, when it comes to the creative process you are fully in there.

Of course Yeah.

When they first came to you with the idea, were you initally comfortable with it?

With the show, I was always easy as long as I have control. Yeah my whole thing is [pause] how can I put it in the right way – Me and you are both travelling on the motorway. We both have decent cars and we both studied our lessons and got our licences so we’re both okay to drive on the road. You have all the information on how to travel the roads as do I. Yet no matter how good you drive and no matter how much you look at the mirror, you cannot determine or control my actions. You can’t determine or control the actions of my vehicle and how it can disturb your vehicle. So meaning even if you’re sticking to the limit of driving 70 miles an hour, you can’t stop that I’ve had an argument with my baby mom and I don’t want to drive home one time. You can’t control that I answer my phone and end up crashing into your car. You can’t control that I fall asleep behind the wheel, the same parable I’m saying goes with life and the influence on what you do. Unless you’re controlling it, you have no clear answers on how the outcomes gonna be. So I knew by controlling how I wanted to display myself will determine the output of what we were to be because how I display myself is how I am naturally. The only person who can enforce that and make sure that happens is me. No matter how good you know me you can only try and display me the best way you understand me to be . You can’t do any more than that because you only know me from third visual. You might do a good job, you might not you might not do a good job. That still comes down to just how you perceive me and the information I’ve given for you to represent me. The only person who can fully represent me to the fullest would have to be me .I understand the things I do so with that I had no problem. The fortunate thing with me and TV is that it accepted me for me being just Tyrone Lindo. In the words of my mate Danny I can only piss with the cock I got so I can always do me.

I’m not going to take your time up, because I can see I only have a few minutes left with you but I really do just want to ask about the upcoming projects. Is it going to have a similar versatility that we saw on BDL bipolar?

100% as far as it comes from music, my message has always been the same. I am a 100% product of Lambeth Council State music. Yeah, I am a product of youth centres and community halls and MCing in the block and at college. So all I do is under the essence of 140 bpm Grime music. So wherever in the world I get a chance to display – I put Papoose on a Grime song.

Same with Craig David.

It has to be done because as I said to Papoose. It would be a disrespect for me to have you in the studio and try to show you something about HipHop. It’s like us trying to go to Jamaica and teach young kids about Reggae saying Oh, I’m from England and let me teach you about about Reggae and teach you about roots and revival. It’s impossible! Can you go to India and teach them about Bollywood? it’s impossible but what I can teach them about because it’s something they haven’t grown up and done is Grime music. Our high intense energy music is something that you can’t replicate anywhere else because that’s made up of straight 100% asbo England and fucked up drugs. Real shit, so with that I can push my music everywhere around the world and look I’m the first person to ever put Coldplay on a Grime song. I’m the first person to ever put Arctic Monkeys on a grime song. First person to ever put Verve on a Grime song, reason why is because culture must coexist. England is not known around the world globally for Hip Hop. England is known globally for indie folk, rock star music. We go to other countries and fuck them up with rockstar music. Our forefathers like John Lennon, The Beatles, Oasis these are our English forefathers. This is the music they took across the pond to every other country and ripped them a new arsehole. You didn’t hear Oasis run to spit on fucking Run DMC beat, that’s not them. That didn’t come from fucking Manchester, Salford. So, when we embrace what we come from, other parts of the worlds can be inspired by it. Embrace the culture!

Make Sure To Stream Big Narstie x Kofi’s Black Is My Colour, Down Below.

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